Josie is poised, unmoving, as she focuses her gaze. Her intention is clear. She moves through the grass like a slow motion film, periodically freezing, one paw in the air. Then in a blur of fur, she runs, leaps and the unfortunate vole that I couldn’t even see is history. Cats don’t struggle with self- esteem issues, they don’t get stressed about their childhoods as they pursue their dreams. Every move is economical, efficient and precise. If they fail, they walk away, lick themselves for a couple of moments and then take a nap. No criticism, no excuses.
One of the joys and challenges of being human is that every experience is recorded in the body: movement patterns, posture and tensions become both allies and obstacles as we reach for our goals in life. Sometimes it’s as hard to recognize what movement pioneer Moshe Feldenkrais called parasitic habits, those interfering patterns we develop over our lifetimes, as it is to see the back of our heads.
Every once in a while we observe special people: a super athlete, a confident business person, a loving teacher, who seem to embody grace in their movement and a clarity in how they realize their intentions. They will often tell you they are just “going with the flow.” Feldenkrais suggested that there should always be three ways to look at any obstacle or challenge. Michael Jordan once said, “Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” Three choices! Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons open up the possibility of choice in our movement and our behavior.
How you move is how you move through life. Your physical tensions, holdings and hesitations are reflected in how you “flow” or “struggle” toward your aim. Working with movement can rapidly change both physical as well as mental habits that have interfered with the ability to realize your intentions.
Here’s a simple way to begin to recognize some of your “holding patterns.” While this exercise is very popular for simple relaxation, it has even more value when you include paying attention to each part. Find a comfortable position – either lying on your back or sitting in a chair. Take few moments to notice yourself – how the breath moves in your body, where you feel comfort or discomfort, the sense of your weight on the floor or on the seat. Slowly, tense the muscles of one foot, then hold them tense for a couple of breaths. Slowly release. Notice if your foot feels the same or different. Begin doing the same thing with the other foot, then move up your body: your calves, thighs, buttocks, etc all the way to your face. Each time you slowly let go, just notice if that part feels the same as before or slightly different. If it feels different, chances are that area was subject to some holding and tension. If you recognize a particular area, you may want to remember that. Then when you are about to make that phone call, or step into that meeting, or start that novel, you can check in with those tension spots, repeat the exercise for those parts, take a deep breath, and begin!

Author's Bio: 

For over 30 years, Lavinia Plonka has pursued the links among body,emotions and the mind. Her training and professional career have included mime, dance, yoga and the martial arts in addition to being a master teacher of The Feldenkrais Method®. She was an artist in residence for the Guggenheim Museum and movement consultant for theater and television companies around the world, from the Irish National Folk Theater to Nickelodeon. Her popular workshops have been sponsored by organizations throughout the world: from Esalen to the Feldenkrais Guild of North America, from physical therapy clinics and yoga schools in the US to learning centers in Beijing and Mexico. She is currently the director of Asheville Movement Center in Asheville, NC, offering a complete movement curriculum as well as private Feldenkrais lessons. Lavinia’s writing includes several books as well as her popular column